"How much does a film cost?"

It's a simple question that requires a less simple answer. (Sorry about that).

When in the early stages of discussion with a client who is thinking of using video, an important question often asked is: ‘How much for a film?’.  As someone who appreciates clarity and transparency, I wish I could give an immediate, direct and accurate response. With film making, though there are many variables that affect the cost. I have worked on one 90 second video that cost the client £500 and a different 90 second video where the client spent £41,000. Why such a disparity for films of the same duration? 

A helpful comparison is with a painter and decorator. No decorator would have a flat rate for painting a house. There are a number of obvious variables - the size of the house, the number of rooms, the level of preparation each surface requires, the quality of finish desired etc. A final price is worked out only once the parameters of the project have been clarified and confirmed. It is very similar when commissioning a film. 

When deciding on the level of budget for a film, a commercially minded approach is advisable. What returns are you looking to get from the end product? 

In the example of the £500 project, the client was looking to enthuse team members about a new internal workflow initiative at their firm. The client supplied us with video clips that had been shot in his office on a smartphone. We edited a simple 90 seconds package together using excerpts from these clips, adding some background music and simple graphics. The film was very basic, the video clips were shaky and poorly framed, but the key messaging was clear, so the film achieved its objective with minimal cost to the client. 

The film with the £41,000 budget was for a consultancy keen to establish itself as the industry leading expert in the field of Artificial Intelligence. The film needed to look and feel like a movie; they were using it to attract the attention of potentially very lucrative clients. It required a great deal of thought and preparation of the script to get the messaging spot on, some overseas shooting and many days in the edit suite creating and adding beautiful and elegant motion graphics. The end result was a film that elevated the status of the client and helped them to establish their credentials in a very high value and competitive field. 

In both these cases the client had a clear objective in mind as to what they wanted their film to do and allocated a suitable budget.  

Here are some of the variables that affect the cost of each stage of making a film.

Pre-production

How much work does the creative approach require from the producer and team before the client is happy to proceed? 

How much writing does the film need?

Is it going to be a logistically complex shoot? Is it being filmed far away? Does it require a large crew and kit? What transportation and accommodation requirements are there?

A full Risk Assessment needs to be made for any filming taking place. The more complex the shoot, the longer this takes.

Production

How many days filming are required?

Does the film need hired performers such as voiceover artists? 

Does a set need to be built for the filming?

Post-production

How much footage needs to be worked on? 

Will motion graphics and/or animation be added?

How many review stages does the client need? 

What level of finesse does the film require? 

At shortstories, we can help you decide on the right budget level for your project. Years of experience helps us to offer the right creative solution at the same time as prioritising getting the most from your investment.

Please send us an email at hello@shortstories.media if you would like us to get in touch to discuss your next video project.

Philip Pickard - Head of Production